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Meares seals Nationals hat-trick with vintage win

8 February 2016

CYCLING: A shining performance from Anna Meares (SA) sealed a hat-trick of crowns with a brilliant surge home to win the women’s keirin final on the final night of the 2016 Cycling Australia Track National Championships.

Luminous in her rainbow jersey, Meares showed why she's the reigning world champion, reeling in Stephanie Morton - who lead by two bike lengths inside the final lap – on the line to bring the packed home crowd to their feet.

The win clinched Meares a sixth national keirin crown and ended a spectacular spell of dominance from Australian teammate and triple reigning champion Morton who had to settle for a silver medal for the first time since 2011.

“I’m really pleased, really happy. As much as the results are great I’m really pleased with how I’ve been able to conduct myself and held myself mentally,” said Meares, who was also awarded the Champion of Champions trophy after a stunning week which saw her claim the team and individual sprint titles.

“What I’ve seen and how I’ve reacted during races is what’s given me the most confidence and I know that as hard as these races are - riders like Kaarle, Courtney, Rikki and Stephanie are pushing not just me but myself as well.

“This is why we’re going to be in really good stead by the time the international competitions arrive, starting with the World Championships.”

With the World Championships in London just four weeks away and the ever approaching Rio 2016 Olympics in only six months, there is no doubting just how much pressure is on all cyclists.

It has been vintage Meares in Adelaide this week, but despite the triple success on the track, her preparation and well being off the track is just as important as her results as she moves through 2016.

“Pressure is going to constantly build as the time frame until the World Championships and the Rio Olympic Games gets shorter and shorter,” she revealed. 

“I’ve got a number of different strategies in place which are all psychological.

“I’m working with not only the team psychologist but also my own.

“They’re working in conjunction with my coach and manager who are all really important aspects to me functioning as an individual athlete. 

“If they’re not on the same page then it doesn’t come together for me as the athlete at the end of the day.”
 
Rising star Rikki Belder completed a South Australian treble on the podium – this being her second top-three keirin placing in two years, after also finishing third at last year’s Oceania Championships. 

Three-time team sprint world champion & 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Kaarle McCulloch finished fifth, in between two rising stars of Australian cycling in Courtney Field (4th) and Holly Takos (6th).

In the men's event, veteran Shane Perkins (VIC) found sizzling form as he won his third keirin national title with a powerful victory, while South Australia's super siblings Annette and Alex Edmondson added to their family's trophy cabinet with victory in the women's scratch and men's points race respectively.

Shane Perkins won his third keirin national title with a powerful victory over defending champion Jacob Schmid (VIC) on a thrilling final day of racing at the Cycling Australia Track National Championships.

“That’s definitely one of the most satisfying wins I’ve had in my career,” said the 29-year-old Perkins, admitting this was one of the best performances of his career.

Victoria's Perkins, the 2011 keirin world champion, took the position behind the derny on the six-man field with New South Wales’ Peter Lewis storming to the front at the first opportunity.

However, Perkins burst back in to the lead on the final lap and held off late challenges from his fellow Schmid, who finished just behind in second, and South Australia’s Thomas Clarke who picked up bronze.

Perkins progressed to the final after a similarly impressive win in his heat. Leading from the start he fended off a late surge to the line by Clarke, winning in a photo finish.

“I can’t do much more than that really," he added. “I’ve done a few keirins in my time. I used that experience and I positioned myself well and I’m really happy with the way I rode it.”

"To win is fantastic, especially with the challenges that I’ve faced and I’m just proud of myself for getting to this point. 

With Perkins gunning for a second Olympic Games birth with selection for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Perkins hopes he has done enough to impress the selectors.

“We’re all fighting for Rio," he remarked. "We all know we’ve got to go out there and prove to the coaches and the staff that we’ve earned the right to be there. Jacob (Schmid) and Pete (Lewis) are in great form so for me it was great to get a win. It shows I can still do it.

“Hopefully I’ve proved myself and shown them that I still want it. I’m here. If they feel that I’ve done enough and I deserve to be back in the team then they’ve got my number.

“But I’m on a flight to Bali tomorrow for seven days with my wife for a holiday so I that’s all I’m worrying about now."

Victoria’s John Cochrane finished fourth, followed by Luke Zaccaria of Western Australia in fifth and Lewis in sixth.

For the second day in a row Edmondson siblings Alex and Annette Edmondson added national titles to their ever growing collection. It was a reversal of the previous days performances with Annette taking the scratch race and Alex the points race.

Annette Edmondson won the women's points race for the fourth time in the last five years with a dominant performance for South Australia.

The 24-year-old lapped the field as she cruised to victory with her teammates Alex Manly and Danielle McKinnirey setting up the opportunity by pushing the pace from the very start.

Edmondson mounted a number of attacks and once she had broken away there was no catching the Adelaide local in front of her home crowd.

"Just before we started the race Nibbo [Jason Niblett] came up to us and said our best shot at winning was to work together as a team and try and make it aggressive and get away individually or in a small group," said Edmondson.

"It wasn't really what I was planning on doing. I was planning on a sprint at the end so I put it on a big gear but I thought, lets try this and make the race a bit more exciting.

"Alex [Manly] made the first move then I made a couple of attacks and held on for the win."

Georgia Baker (TAS) won the sprint to take silver ahead of Ashlee Ankudinoff (NSW).

Alex Edmondson produced a dominant display of bunch race riding to claim his second national title in as many days after gold in the scratch race yesterday.

It is Edmondson's second gold in the event in four years after claiming the title in 2013.

In an almost repeat of last nights scratch race Edmondson and Stephen Hall (WA) were the main aggressors of the race. Hall was initially off the front before an explosive acceleration by Edmondson took him across. Edmondson contributed the bulk of the work in the move with Hall reluctant to contribute.

Edmondson's strength saw the duo take a lap with just less than 100 laps remaining. As the bunch realised that the podium positions were falling out of reach the remainder of the race was full of attacks with moves coming and going.

Scott Law and Callum Scotson consistently picked up points over the remaining sprints giving ahead of Hall ahead of the final sprint.

The final two podium positions came down to the final sprint with Law claiming silver on 39 points just ahead of Scotson on 35. Despite his continual presence throughout the race Hall was forced to settle for fourth.

 Cycling Australia

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